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180618 June 18, 2018


When I'm 64

But That Was Eight Years Ago!
Tommy Towery
LHS '64

        The song was recorded by the Beatles and became a hit - way back in 1967. I was 21 years old at the time and a student at Memphis State University. Some of you younger ones were just getting out of high school. 

        The song is written about a young man questioning his lover, and is about his plans of their growing old together. Although the theme is ageing, it was one of the first songs Paul McCartney wrote, when he was 16. I didn't think I would lose my hair, but that happened long before I was 64.

        At 21 I was not even sure I would live to be 64, with the threat of the Vietnam War filling the newspapers and the evening news each night. And, to be honest, I had no idea what I would really be doing at that age. My plans were to make the military a career, but then I would retire after 20 years at 42 years old. I thought I would become a military astronaut, and maybe follow in the footsteps of John Glenn and become a senator. When I failed to reach the first phase of that goal I had to drop those plans. That meant if I retired from the service I would still have another 20 years I would still have to live before I made it to 64. (Working at a university was never in my plans - I wasn't even sure I would graduate at 21). I was aware I could start drawing my Social Security at 65, and to me that was the age I would be when I would hang up my hat and retire. But I had no concept of what my retirement life would be - or with whom I would share it. 

        Over the years after 1967, when I first heard the song, my ideas for retirement changed on a routine basis, but never did I expect to be where I am now - at almost 72. I did not even wait until I was 64 to retire. I did retire from the Air Force at 42 as planned, and decided to retire from the University of Memphis after putting in 20 years there as well. So, I was 62 when I retired, two years sooner than the age in the song of 64. 

        I always questioned the lifestyle of my first ex-wife's dad and step mom when we visited them after they retired. Each morning the would get up, bring in the newspaper and sit around the breakfast table reading it while smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. They did that routine every morning and I thought to myself, "What a way to waste your life." Today, Sue and I start off each morning sitting around the table, drinking coffee and reading the newspapers but we neither one smoke so it is a little different. I used to have to go out and bring in the newspaper, but when the price for the print copy sky rocked to over $50 a month, we elected to switch to the much more reasonably priced digital copy, so we both sit around drinking coffee and reading our iPads.

        I don't remember what they did the rest of their day, but I know that Sue's and my days are filled with activities from the time we get up from the kitchen table until we go to bed around midnight. Its summertime now so with the Southern heat and humidity we do not do much outside, but that doesn't slow us down.I usually start off the day with catching up with my friends on Facebook as I eat breakfast and then spend a while picking up all the stuff I forgot to put up the night before. Sometimes I take a morning break and sit on the sofa and watch the military channel on TV, and often nod off as I do so.

        Every day I spend some time writing. I have just helped two people format and publish books they wrote, and I am finishing up the eighth volume of my own B-52 crew stories series. Besides writing I have to edit, format, and find pictures to go with the stories. Of course while I am on the computer I often end up surfing the web or listening to songs on youtube. Most mornings I have Alexa play "Oldie Goldie" songs for me as I wander around the house. I have two "hobby" jobs which keep me busy a few hours each week. Besides selling my books and some other military associated items I also make vinyl military decals with my Cricut machine and have raked in a few dollars doing so. It cuts cost by getting the materials by dumpster diving behind a local sign shop which discards end rolls of vinyl - and I do that about twice a week, weather permitting.

        In the afternoon sun periods, I am usually back on the computer with my second session of writing and editing. Sue and I make up a route each day to try to take in as many shopping stops as we can in one outing and usually end up turning what could be four or five trips into one. 

        After dinner we do an old Southern thing that has long ago passed from the normal activities of the modern world. We sit on our front porch and watch the world go by. We live on a corner so we take bets on who is going to be speeding down the hill or running the stop sign in front of our house. Sometimes I listen to the police radios on my scanner app on my iPad as we enjoy the setting sun. When it is finally down, or the bugs get too bad, we come in and watch all the shows we have recorded so we can skip through the commercials. I've been watching a lot of Atlanta Braves baseball this season, and we watch a lot of British drama shows on Netflix or Amazon Prime. A soak in the Jacuzzi before bed and it's off to sleep - repeat tomorrow and afterwards as necessary.

        All that activity is dependent upon our travel schedule. As any of you who read the Traveller (which I dedicate several hours on Saturday to complete) know we travel a lot. Since retirement we've been to Hawaii eight times, taken two trans-Atlantic cruises, been though the Panama Canal, driven back and forth to California and taken a train from Denver to San Deigo.

        Would I have thought any of those activities would be in my life when I was 21 and listening to the Beatles question what I would be doing when I was 64? That is a definite NO! 

        So, was anyone out there more clairvoyant than I was at that age? I would love to hear from some of you as to whether or not you are living the life you planned to, back in 1967 when the Beatles posed the question?

        Memphis, TN - I had hoped the story I ran the last two weeks might drag up some memories and comments from some of you, but only Dianne Hughey , LHS '64, seemed to have remembered it. I knew Dianne would, since she and Carolyn were best of friends. So if you aren't excited about the good old days, this week I give you the dull story of an old retiree. I know several of you are still working, and I don't know how you have the time. There is no way I could work today and get the things done I have to do. I joke and tell folks if there is something they need done then they need to do it before they retire, because they won't have time after then do.

Lee Class of '68
50th Reunion
July 28, 2018

John and Sandy Cates

    We are working with the Lee High '68 50th Class Reunion Committee.  Greg Patterson asked that we send the 50th Class Reunion Invitation and Registration Form to you.  Please send/share the information with your Lee High friends and classmates.  We hope to have a great party and look forward to you/your classmates being there, too.  


From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    Carla Thomas's Song Clip Last Week

George Vail


        I'm pretty sure that was from "Where the Action Is" and the late great Dick Clark on the introduction... I think some of Paul Revere and the Raiders members were sitting in the crowd around her. BTW, the song fulfilled the record industries benchmark on time 2:30 or less... It was thought it was easier to promote a song in that era on the radio if the song was no more than 2:30 in duration.



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